Yanks lose to Mariners as bats rest comfortably in Toronto

Given the tough late-season schedule and the west coast night game, the Yankees went ahead and sent the offense to Toronto prior to Wednesday night’s game. It was the smart thing to do. The 12th inning walk-off loss to Mariners dropped the Yankees to 4-10 in extra inning games this season, the worst mark in the AL.

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Cy Vargas

The Yankees had no trouble with Jason Vargas the first two times they faced him this year (combined 14 runs in 7 IP), and early on it looked like the third time would be more of the same. Derek Jeter opened the game with a ten-pitch at-bat, and although the Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the first, they managed to see 23 pitches. After a 1-2-3 second inning, Vargas was at 38 pitches. By the end of the third, he was at 60. And that’s when the offensive nodded off.

After throwing 60 pitches to ten batters across the first three innings, the Seattle lefty needed just 26 pitches to face ten batters across the next three innings. Vargas sat down nine in a row at one point, and the Yankees’ only real rally wasn’t even much of a rally. Andruw Jones drew a one-out walk in the third, then got thrown out at home trying to score on Eduardo Nunez‘s double down the left field line. It was a terrible, horrible, no good send by third base coach Robbie Thomson; Andruw had slowed down at third, then had to rev the engine back up before getting thrown out by ten feet. Third inning, only one out, dude running has a tear in his knee, top of the order due up … pretty good time to throw up the stop sign, if you ask me.

Vargas continued his mastery of the Yankees lineup into the seventh, but Nick Swisher got a hold of an 0-1 pitch for a game-tying solo homer to left. Just like that, Vargas’ day was over. Eric Wedge came out of the dugout immediately to remove his starter from the game, after he’d allowed just the one run on three hits and a walk in 6.2 IP. Tough crowd.

Nova Battles

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The story of this series was good enough starting pitching, but not great starting pitching. Phil Hughes was okay on Monday and A.J. Burnett was okay on Tuesday, so Ivan Nova was nice enough to stick with the theme on Wednesday. He put nine men on base in 7.1 IP of work (one of his four walks was intentional), again having trouble getting his fastball down in the zone in the early innings. The one run he allowed came on a wild pitch of all things, a fastball that got away with Mike Carp on third following a walk, fly out, caught stealing, walk (to Carp), single (Carp to third), wild pitch.

Nova was better than Hughes and Burnett, no doubt, but I didn’t think he was stellar by any means. One run in 7.1 IP against the Mariners is like, three runs in 5.2 IP against a real offense. Give the kid credit for battling though, he gave the team a chance to win just like he has all year.

The Bullpen

Overall, the Yankees relief corps did an okay job. David Robertson cleaned up Nova’s mess in the eighth, Rafael Soriano tossed a scoreless ninth, Boone Logan wiggled in and out of trouble in the tenth, then handed the ball off to Cory Wade for the escape job in the 11th. The game ended with Cory grooving a pitch to Luis Rodriguez, who hit the walk-off solo homer. That’s the same Luis Rodriguez that came into the game hitting .176/.286/.286. The same Luis Rodriguez that went 3-for-5 with two doubles and the walk-off homer. Go figure.

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Leftovers

Do I really have to write about another dumb sacrifice bunt? What’s the point of pinch-running Brett Gardner for Jones after he gets hit by a pitch (in the eighth) if you’re not going to let him steal? And why wouldn’t you pinch-hit Eric Chavez for the uber-slumping Nunez (3-for-37 coming into the game)? To make things even better, Chavez pinch-hit for Nunez with two outs and no one on base in the tenth inning. Common sense is a lost art these days, I swear. Anyway, the Yankees did not score in the seventh inning (unsurprisingly), but at least they did it THE RIGHT WAY.

Aside from Swisher’s homer, the offense did absolutely nothing. Four hits, two walks, and two hit batsmen in a dozen offensive innings. It doesn’t help when you’re throwing away leadoff baserunners in the name of small ball, but I’m not sure the Yankees would have scored again if they played another 12 innings. Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Jesus Montero went a combined 0-for-15, and the top three hitters in the lineup went a combined 1-for-15. Just one of the final eleven hitters they sent to the plate reached base, and that was Robinson Cano taking a fastball to the foot (x-rays were negative). The offense just wasn’t there, bad at-bats and weak hacks, especially after the third inning.

Both the Red Sox and Rays lost on Wednesday, so the Yankees still lead the division by four games with an eight game cushion on the wildcard. They only have 14 games left to play, and any combination of seven wins and Rays losses will put New York in the postseason.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings.

Up Next

It’s time for the final scheduled off day of the season, but it’s not much of an off day because the Yankees won’t get to Toronto until like, 10-11am ET on Thursday. Sleep all day, then start a three-game series with the Blue Jays on Friday. CC Sabathia gets the ball against Brett Cecil.

X-rays negative after Cano gets hit-by-pitch on foot

Update (2:02am): Well that was quick. Bryan Hoch reports that x-rays were negative. And exhale.

Original Post (1:50am): Via Pete Caldera, Robinson Cano went off with the team trainer to have test performed on his right foot after getting hit by a pitch in the 12th inning of tonight’s game. Robbie stayed in the game after getting plunked, but he didn’t have to play the field long because of Luis Rodriguez’s walk-off homer. The Yankees have every reason to be extra cautious here, Cano is simply important.

Game 148: End of the trip

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

At long last, the final game of the west coast trip. The Pacific Time Zone sure does a bang up job of making six games feel like sixty, doesn’t it? Here’s the starting lineup…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Jesus Montero, DH
Andruw Jones, LF
Russell Martin, C
Eduardo Nunez, 3B

Ivan Nova, SP

First pitch is scheduled for a little after 10pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and ESPN nationally. Enjoy.

Roster News: Steve Garrison cleared waivers and has been outrighted to the minors. He had been designated for assignment over the weekend to make room on the 40-man roster for Austin Romine.

Feliciano underwent surgery on rotator cuff

Via Dan Barbarisi, Pedro Feliciano had surgery on his rotator cuff on September 8th, and he’s got a long rehab ahead of him. The lefty tried to rehab the injury at Dr. James Andrews’ recommendation, but it obviously didn’t work. There’s a legitimate chance that Feliciano will never throw a pitch for the Yankees, other than that one-inning rehab appearance in rookie ball a few weeks ago. Multi-year contracts for relievers, eh? Never a good idea. Maybe they’ll learn one of these days.

Thursday Wednesday Night Open Thread

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

One more night of west coast baseball, folks. One more night of these awful 10pm ET starts, then everything goes right back to normal. The Mets are playing the Nats (Peacock vs. Pelfrey), and the Indians-Rangers (Huff vs. Holland) will be on ESPN. If you’re into hockey, the Traverse City Tournament Finals will be on MSG. It’s a prospect-only tournament, Rangers vs. Sabres tonight, if that’s your thing. Talk about whatever you want here, anything goes.

2012 Draft: Draft schedule announced, Stanek not eligible

Via John Manuel, MLB has announced that the 2012 amateur draft will be held on June 4th-6th. The actual draft date isn’t terribly interesting (it’s the first full week of June, as usual), but it is interesting in the case of Ryne Stanek.

Stanek, a sophomore right-hander at Arkansas, was born on July 21st, 1991, so he’ll celebrate his 21st birthday 46 days after the draft. MLB rules stipulate that a player must turn 21 within 45 days of the final day of the draft to be draft-eligible as a sophomore. He missed the cutoff by one stupid day. Stanek has legit first round ability thanks to his projectable frame (6-foot-4, 180 lbs.), mid-90’s gas, and three offspeed pitches, but he’ll have to wait another year to cash in on his talent. Poor kid got hosed.

No need for a backup catcher in the postseason

Every team carries one, just in case. But with the way the schedule works, it’s largely a superfluous position. While teams routinely go a week or even two without a day off during the regular season, there is no instance where any team will play in more than three consecutive days during the postseason. That leaves built-in rest days for the starting catcher, which means little to no role for the regular season backup.

In most situations teams opt to carry the backup anyway, but for the most part they’re not on the roster to give the starter a breather in a day game after a night game. They’re around just in case the starter takes one off the thumb, as Russ Martin did a few nights ago. They’re around in case the starter pulls a hammy rounding the bases, or gets hit on the head on a backswing. No team wants to get caught in that situation without an adequate replacement, so they bring the backup catcher along for the ride.

This season the Yankees have zero reason to carry a true backup catcher into the postseason. Earlier this week they placed their regular backup, Francisco Cervelli, on the 15-day DL. As Mike noted in that post, the 15-day DL is largely meaningless in September, since rosters have expanded to 40 anyway. While there might be other reasons for the Yankees to place him on the DL — Mark Feinsand of the Daily News notes that it creates a public record of Cervelli’s concussion — chances are it’s merely a move that allows the Yankees a little more flexibility when they create the playoff roster.

Austin Romine has taken over the backup catcher duties for the moment, and with all the men the Yankees have on the 60-day DL they could easily add him to the postseason roster. But there is no need. They’ll already have two players on the postseason roster, Jesus Montero and Jorge Posada, who can strap on catcher’s gear and fill in should Russ need to leave the game. And since they both fill the same lineup spot, DH, they won’t be playing at the same time. In other words, the Yankees can make a substitution without sacrificing the DH.

If a situation arises where Martin cannot continue, the Yankees can make a mid-series swap and add Romine to the roster at that point. That is, if Martin gets hurt in Game 3 of the ALCS, the Yankees could call in Romine for Game 4. The only catch is that Martin would then me ineligible for the World Series roster. That might be the only reason to carry a backup catcher in the playoffs: to ensure that the starter can remain on the roster in the following round if he sustains a nagging injury that will cost him a few games in the short-term. But that doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to carry a backup when another, more useful player could be available.

Using the above reasoning, here’s how the Yankees postseason roster could play out:

Catcher (1): Russell Martin
Infielders (6): Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez, Eric Chavez
Outfielders (5): Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Andruw Jones, Chris Dickerson
DH/PH (2): Jesus Montero, Jorge Posada
Starters (4): CC Sabathia, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova
Relievers (7): Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett/Luis Ayala/Hector Noesi

The last man in the bullpen is pretty unnecessary, but it’s doubtful that the Yankees carry only 10 pitchers. That means if they wanted to add Romine they’d have to remove Posada, Dickerson, or Chavez from the roster. Since all three of them can provide more value than a backup catcher, it stands to reason that the Yankees should just use the advantage they have — two emergency catchers — and run with that. It allows them to have a stronger and more flexible postseason roster.